In its final performance at a major endurance race, the Porsche 911 GT3 R has won its farewell race in Bathurst, adding yet another title to its long list of international endurance victories. In accordance with the regulations, Porsche had to field its 2018 model, and so in the model’s final outing, the Australian victory proved the perfect send-off for the successful racer. The latest version of the 911 GT3 R features numerous improvements in terms of driveability, aerodynamics and kinematics, and debuted at the 2019 Daytona 24 Hours last month.
In qualifying, the young Aussie, Matt Campbell, set the fastest Porsche time in the #912 car that he shared with teammates Dirk Werner and Dennis Olsen, placing the car in seventh spot (fourth row) on the grid. And just as it was in qualifying, Campbell once again set the course alight in the dying minutes of the 12-Hour race, when he performed three perfectly executed overtaking manoeuvres to bring the #912 car home in first place. After twelve hours of racing, the top seven cars all finished on the winning lap with a blanket of just 50-odd seconds covering this group.
For the first time in the capacity of race team manager, Earl Bamber oversaw the operation of the Earl Bamber Motorsport (EBM) team’s two cars, the #911 and #912, from the pit wall rather than in his familiar role as a Porsche works driver.
After an hour on the clock, Dirk Werner had shoe-horned his way up from seventh place to fourth just as the sun made its first appearance. As is customary at Bathurst, race drama is never far away from where the action is and following several safety car periods, the order was shaken up a bit. Thanks to a sound pit stop strategy, consistent and clean driving, the #912 Porsche was leading the field after three hours. At around the three-quarter distance mark, the #911 Porsche (started from 12th on the grid) driven by Romain Dumas, Sven Müller and Mathieu Jaminet pitted with power steering problems. This unfortunately spelled the end of the #911’s charge, as at times the two EBM Porsches had traded places for the lead.
With his teammates, Dirk Werner and Dennis Olsen, both having driven strong stints and the EBM squad having executed the right strategy, this laid foundation for a strong finish. In the final 20 minutes of the 12-hour endurance race, Matt Campbell in the #912 Porsche 911 GT3 R picked off three vehicles, one after the other, and with perfectly-executed manoeuvres swept into the lead.
The Porsche 911 GT3 R fielded by the customer team Competition Motorsport/McElrea Racing retired following an accident by David Calvert-Jones after just 37 laps. The #12 Porsche was the second car to retire in the race which Calvert-Jones shared with Jaxon Evans and works driver Kévin Estre. The identical GT3 car entered by the Black Swan Racing team could not contest the race due to an accident during practice – the incident occurred just five minutes into the second practice session.
In the Class B of the 12-hour race, the customer team Grove Racing, scored a comfortable and convincing lights-to-flag victory. Ben Barker (Great Britain) and the Australian father-son team of Stephen and Brenton Grove secured first place with the #4 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup ahead of the same model (#23) vehicle run by the Carrera Cup Asia squad.
The second round of the Intercontinental GT Challenge is the California 8 Hours to be held at the Laguna Seca Raceway on 29-30 March 2019.
Compiled by: Glen Smale
Images by: Porsche Motorsport